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The Six Degrees of Warming in a Decarbonizing World

We are all familiar with the terms climate change and global warming, yet the process of identifying the cause and then effectively agreeing on best practices to reduce the issue has been an ongoing dialogue for over three decades. While commitments to reduce environmental impacts vary, it is important to achieve a declining average carbon intensity, or amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy consumed, from primary energy over time. These primary energy sources include fossil carbon fuels, solar energy, gravitational and rotational forces of tides and oceans, geothermal heat and wind energy are converted into energy carriers and then energy services. A major contributing factor to decarbonization is the substitution of cleaner fuels with low carbon content, with fossil fuels having a high carbon content.

How to limit warming to 2ºC

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) newly-published fourth edition of the Low Carbon Economy Index, we have not taken the necessary steps globally to increase the rate of emissions cuts in major emerging economies to effectively slow down the warming trend. The PwC points out the brevity of the situation in a world that is far from being on target to achieve a sustainable or resilient energy future:

"Our Low Carbon Economy Index evaluates the rate of decarbonisation of the global economy that is needed to limit warming to 2ºC. This report shows that global carbon intensity decreased between 2000 and 2011 by around 0.8% a year. In 2011, carbon intensity decreased by 0.7%. The global economy now needs to cut carbon intensity by 5.1% every year from now to 2050. Keeping to the 2ºC carbon budget will require sustained and unprecedented reductions over four decades. Governments’ ambitions to limit warming to 2ºC appear highly unrealistic.”

Each year the global carbon budget is evaluated to assess the amount that has been ‘spent’ and how much emissions reductions are needed to achieve below the 2 target. The internationally agreed upon warming target of 2ºC above the pre-industrial levels which, according to analysts, is the threshold that could prevent the world from experiencing ‘at least six degrees of warming’ by the end of this century. The critical issue is that the 2º scenario is no longer valid. The PwC research stated that even if we achieve an improvement in our rate of decarbonization by six-fold, we still gain only a 50% chance of avoiding the 2 degree threshold. Note that an increase by 6ºC of warming is the equivalent to 10.8ºF.

An area of concern stems from the growing energy demands of emerging economies such as Russia, Mexico, and India. The rising GHG emissions from emerging economies have far exceeded the record decarbonization levels of industrial countries such as France, Germany and the U.K. According to the International Energy Agency, its figures published in May stated that CO2 emissions in 2011 rose to 31.6 gigatons, an increase of 3.2 per cent from 2010. Although many countries have stepped up their efforts to reduce emissions, without a radical policy shift we are on track for a warmer planet.

Opportunities for Low Carbon Technologies

For countries seeking new sources of economic growth, the next wave of growth could be derived from investment in low carbon technologies such as solar panels, electric cars, carbon capture and storage and innovation in biofuels. According to Reuters, in late 2010, China has committed to an investment of $1.5 trillion toward the advancement of seven strategic sectors through 2015. They identified several emerging sectors that accounted for approximately 3 per cent of the GDP at the end of 2010 which outpaced the growth of traditional industries. The strategic sectors include low carbon technologies, renewable energy, new-energy vehicles, bio-technology and next-gen IT.

The Reality

PwC concluded that business-as-usual is not an option and cites the need for more urgency on climate policy. Much of the reporting on climate change is calmly described through published studies and scientific journals hoping to garner the attention of those who will change the predicted outcome. Upon reading the Rolling Stone article, Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math, one feels a jolt to reality and thinks beyond the daily bubble where we filter out the negative realities of life. What rings true is we have only one planet. As extreme weather events become more and more common, it is no longer someone else’s problem or experience we are reading about. Climate change has hit home and is the responsibility of consumers, policy makers and business as we enter a new age of uncertainty.   

Tamar Burton

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Climate Change and Beyond in a Carbon Economy

Just two years ago, the Climate Vulnerability Forum and DARA created a partnership to raise the profile of the impacts of climate change and with it the benefits of transitioning to a climate resilient low-carbon economy. Released in September, the 2nd edition of the Climate Vulnerability Monitor was developed to measure the global impact of climate change and the carbon economy at a national level. This latest monitor uses 34 climate and carbon related indicators to calculate and compare the vulnerability of 184 countries in 2010 and 2030, and covers four impact areas (environmental disasters, habit change, health impacts and industry stress).

Some climate inactivity findings include:

  • Human Dimension: Nobody is spared the global climate crisis. Twenty more years of inaction could lead to up to 1 million climate-related deaths per year by 2030.
  • Economics: Climate action is a worthy investment, yet financial outlays to adapt to climate change are underestimated.
  • Social Value: Climate inaction jeopardizes global development and poverty reduction efforts.
  • Regulation: Today’s regulatory decisions are mandated by outdated estimates of the negative effects of climate inaction.

To add some perspective, based on the latest U.N. population projections, five billion people will live in urban areas by the year 2030. These cities of the future will not only bear the burden of climate change and its symptoms, including an increasing demand for power, transportation and sewage, but in another 20 years the population is estimated to almost double.

In recent months, the focus on the carbon economy has swelled following reports of extreme weather conditions. Although this climate issue has been recognized for years, it has been a challenge of translating information into action. Bloomberg has provided a list of sustainability indicators around energy investment, the growing cleantech sector and climate change, among others. The list also provided insight into how these areas are perceived by consumers. Here is a snapshot:

  • 78%: polled investors who recognize that climate change is a threat to the environment.
  • 75,000: total workers currently employed by the U.S. wind power industry.
  • $10 billion: annual savings on U.S. electric bills due to new light bulb standards.
  • 5 percentage points: the increase in climate change beliefs since March.
  • 75%: world’s surface that had unusually hot summers each year over the last decade.

Following the growth of urbanization and the requisite consumerism that built our economy, to reverse that direction is an endeavor. While the impacts of climate change are continually being explored, proactive ventures to implement cleantech, reduce electricity demand and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and create jobs are growing. From its early emergence in the 1990s, cleantech was used to describe a group of emerging technologies. Since then, it has defined the shift from business as usual to the evolution of second-generation products or services to accommodate 21st century energy requirements. In 2007, this area received a record $148 billion in new funding in the midst of rising oil prices and climate change policies encouraging the focus on renewable energy.

An example of job creation is found in Sacramento where over $250 million in federal funding has been secured for clean technology and energy efficiency over the past 13 years through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A leader in cleantech job creation, the region currently sustains over 14,000 jobs and has demonstrated success as an engine for job development and economic growth. By 2018, it is forecast that three clean technology sectors will amass revenues in excess of $325 billion, these include solar photovoltaics, wind power and biofuels. The increasing use of the natural resources of wind, sun and water will offer renewable energy opportunities as well as avenues to invest in the growing cleantech revolution. Investing in the resilience of our environment is essential, yet it will take a consolidated effort to implement clean technologies, create jobs and encourage economic growth.


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Can the Sharing Economy Cross to the Mainstream?

Following years of consumerism, technology has offered new interpretations of ownership. Competitive services touting the benefits of “sharing” and “access over ownership” have gained ground as viable alternatives. Consumers have revisited past generations’ routines of sharing, swapping, lending, and bartering. Businesses are allowing access to both tangible items and less tangible assets of space and skills. Sharing services are progressively gaining traction in densely populated areas. However, the question remains as to whether they can cross to the mainstream and gain massive adoption?

Enacting consumer behavior change is a challenging endeavor. In a recent review of consumer behavior change, psychologists Wendy Wood and David Neal suggest that consumers often “act like creatures of habit, automatically repeating past behavior with little regard to current goals and valued outcomes.”

In contrast to ownership, the sharing economy while founded on the concepts of community and sharing, attempts to find value through financial savings for consumers. Like the sharing economy, sustainability initiatives are focused on advancing social equity. Both sustainability and the sharing economy minimize waste, optimize the allocation of resources and reduce carbon emissions with communities. When considering their adoption, however, it seems to come down to the intent and behavior of the individual.

Recent findings suggest that pro-environmental campaigns emphasizing financial savings (self-interested) over protecting the environment (self-transcending) have generally been ineffective. Although advocates promoted financial benefits in order to accelerate adoption of eco-friendly behaviors (i.e., saving energy results in lower bills), researchers Thogersen and Crompton found that financial incentives may make people less likely to carry out environmental actions in general. Self-interested values, such as economic welfare, wealth and power were found to be in conflict with the self-transcending values of protecting the environment.

Another study, conducted by researchers Fowler and Christakis, reveals that acts of kindness and generosity travel in social networks up to three degrees of separation. They believe that “cooperative behavior cascades in human social networks” and that “there is a deep and fundamental connection between social networks and goodness.” They added that “groups with altruists in them will be more likely to survive than selfish groups.”

The resounding message of the sharing economy is that it fosters relationships and builds communities. So far, it has focused primarily on the self-interested values of saving money and making money from the idle resources in order to appeal to consumers. The sharing economy should incorporate self-transcending values such as sustainability and goodness to its core message in order to achieve behavior change and cross to the mainstream. 


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Building Smarter Communities with Tradepal

Our mission, at Tradepal, is to power peer-to-peer commerce. Our goal is to contribute to building smarter communities. Our passion is to encourage the Forgotten R of the Environment: Reuse. 

We empower users to bring ReUse back into the sustainability equation by providing a simple way to list, share and trade unused items.


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The Generals on Jobs, Entrepreneurship and Cleantech

(source: Dreamforce)

At this year’s Leadership Keynote, at Dreamforce ‘12, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and Gen. Colin Powell spoke with Marc Benioff in the packed Moscone conference hall. The candid talk offered attendees an opportunity to hear the vision of the two leaders regarding the future of job creation, entrepreneurship, cleantech and their views on climate change. 

The following offers some takeaways from the hour-long talk:

On job creation:

Gen. Colin Powell:

"What we need is super people who will start examining the issues. Businesses create jobs, and the jobs that have gone aren’t necessarily coming back. We need to go up the ladder of sophistication and educate our kids for the jobs that will be in the United States."

Jeff Immelt:

[Regarding GE] “We’ve moved all the appliance production from Mexico and other countries back to Kentucky. A combination of the new manufacturing technologies plus better labor management relationships are going to open up another era of competitiveness for the United States.”

I think owning your own supply chain is a huge competitive advantage. The era of inexpensive labor is basically over. Today it’s all about markets. Being infront of your customer, having short cycle times, better speed, that’s what wins. Chasing low cost labor is yesterdays playbook.”

(Source: Dreamforce)

Toward the last quarter of the keynote, Marc Benioff directed the conversation to the topic of the environment by stating a big issue on everyone’s mind is the topic of global warming.

Jeff Immelt:

"We had a group of PHDs study climate science. Global warming is real, it is caused by man. It is hard to tell what the impacts will be… what it means for the polar ice caps.
What the U.S. is good at is driving innovation. Seeing how the entrepreneurial spirit can help solve big problems. Anytime you can align innovation and commerce with a social need, things happen faster. If you can align entrepreneurship, innovation and science with a need - it is incredible to see the forces that take place.”
(Source: Dreamforce)

Gen. Colin Powell: 

"We want energy independence. All the poor are coming up into the middle class 1 billion, 100 million, from industrialization. Demand for energy is going up. New sources of energy is needed."

I’m fully in agreement with you that global warming is real. I think it is indisputable. Surely, It it in our interests to cut back on the emissions we are throwing up there.”

(Source: Dreamforce)

On the topic of Green Technology:

Jeff Immelt:

"We invest more now in Ecomagination than we did before. We think over the long term this is a winner and we are long term players. Innovation is the power.

Entrepreneurship is the power. Identify the need, create one or two market mechanisms in between, let’s go!”

Directing the question to Jeff Immelt, Chairman of The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Benioff asked, “What does the evolution of the economy look like?

Jeff Immelt:

"The U.S. can completely own its energy future - it will be the shame of a lifetime if we don’t do it.

This great resource that we have, I view it as a national strength, a job creator and an economic driver for the next decade.”

(Source: Dreamforce)


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Improving Our Cities

The concept of green cities encompasses not only public parks offering green spaces, fresh air and sparkling ponds, but also the acceleration of sustainable practices and policies. Many cities have integrated social, environmental and economic objectives while incorporating eco-friendly lifestyle options. Many of them have enacted Climate Action Plans that outline their energy efficiency goals and reforms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by set timeframes.

Here are 10 green ways to improve our cities:

Top 10 Ways to Make Cities Greener
Source: Best Sociology Programs


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Money and Happiness

According to a Princeton University study, money does buy happiness. Surprisingly, the magic number is only $75k. The study reveals that any increment below that benchmark leads to a feeling of misery. In contrast, as it rises above the benchmark, the rate of happiness stays constant. 

Harvard psychologist and happiness expert, Dan Gilbert, offers Eight Ways to Spend your Money and Get Happy Doing it

Here is a summary:

1. Use your money to purchase experiences. Instead of purchasing goods, spend on thrills, concerts, sporting events and travel as greater happiness is derived from experience purchases than material purchases. 

2. The pleasure of giving money to others derives happiness. Spending on one’s self is less satisfying than the emotional rewards derived from charities, donations, and helping others.

3. As pleasure is fleeting, spend on small temporary pleasures rather than larger outlays in larger time gaps.  

4. Pass on the extended warranties and other insurances that are overpriced. These guarantees provide no happiness by hedging against future regret. By depriving one from the emotional benefit of commitment.

5. Refocus mentally from the use now and pay later and commit to the purchase now. Consume it going forward as future events trigger stronger emotions. 

6. Contemplate the consequences prior to committing. Psychological distress is better predicted by negative consequences than major life events. 

7. Comparison shop for the ‘best deal’ rather than the greatest from a monetary perspective.

8. Explore other consumers opinions prior to committing to a purchase.

While these guidelines offer consumers mental cues to help curb their consumerism, they also offer insight into the emotional triggers that surround money. Aristotle found that happiness is not merely an emotional state, but it is derived by achieving virtues. He believed that when one found the balancing point between a deficiency and excess they could achieve greater long-term pleasure than just fleeting amusements. 

Image Source: Lam Thuy Vo / NPR


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Fuel Efficiency Targets to Reduce Emissions by Half

The average American travels 50 miles during Labor Day Weekend and 28.2 million will travel by car. According to AAA current gas prices, averaging $3.80 per gallon, are the highest ever recorded for this holiday weekend. The Corporate Level Fuel Economy (CAFE) and Greenhouse Gas emissions final rules have been established for model years 2012 and beyond. This enacts a big step toward reducing our country’s oil dependency and carbon emissions while saving consumers money at the pump.

The CAFE program will gradually increase energy efficiency to 35.5 m.p.g. by 2016, from the current average of 29 m.p.g., to ultimately reach 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year. These new rules will also increase the pressure on auto manufacturers toward electrified vehicle production. The benefit of the new emissions rules will result in a decrease in GHG by half, eliminating over six billion tons over the course of the program by 2025.

Labor Day Gas Prices and Fuel Efficiency

Source: Pew Research


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The Forgotten R of the Environment



When we think about the 3R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), we immediately recall recycling and the efforts cities make to enforce this practice. Although, there are many practical and effective solutions, the 3R’s don’t receive equal attention. Typically recycling is made easy by providing receptacles to separate paper, aluminum, glass, plastic and even tires.

Recently, we have become more mindful of reducing our consumption of water, electricity, paper products, or even adopt biking and opt for public transportation. But one R - Reuse tends to be overlooked. Consumers participate by using grocery totes, reusable water bottles and by donating items to charities. But these facilities have limited space, and many items are not accepted such as furniture, exercise equipment, textbooks, encyclopedias and electrical fixtures. Much of this never ends up back in circulation even though it could be used by others.  

Tradepal’s mission is to make reuse as easy as recycling. The online service   encourages reuse by simplifying the process so users can list items with images in less than a minute and seamlessly broadcast their virtual sale to their networks. No need for classifieds or to compete with power users to generate visibility. All users’ items are displayed on their profile complete with image, price, condition and description.   

Tradepal offers an online network that engages buy, sell, barter and giveaway with trusted users while helping the environment. Through tradepal’s peer-to-peer marketplace, consumers have a timesaving tool to reduce their estimated $7,000 in unused household items sitting around and put them back into circulation in just 1-click.

Planning a yard sale, but dreading the summer heatwave? Moving and in need to sell or giveaway some items rather than storing them indefinitely? Just visit tradepal and list all your items and share, and the offers will come to your inbox.

This past week I held a moving sale on tradepal and generated hundreds of views and valid offers. As a result, my personal carbon savings increased to 951 kg of CO2, the equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 24 tree seedlings grown for 10 years. 

Here is a summary of the items that were recommerced to four users: 

  • Couch   200 kg
  • Bedroom Set   430 kg
  • Antique make-up table   270 kg
  • Electronics   700 kg
  • 4 Dining room chairs  750 kg
  • Housewares   400 kg
  • Art   100 kg
  • Clothing   30 kg

The total amount of carbon savings from these users was a combined savings of 2,880 kg, or 2.9 tons of COby choosing my recommerced items listed on tradepal rather than new. 

The following highlights some significant equivalents of the carbon savings resulting from this recommerce: 

  • Carbon sequestered by 75 tree seedlings grown for 10 years 
  • CO2 emissions from 120 propane cylinders used for home BBQs
  • CO2 emissions from 320 gallons of gasoline consumed 
  • Greenhouse gas emissions avoided by recycling 1 ton of waste instead of sending it to the landfill
  • CO2 emissions from 7 barrels of oil consumed 

To find out the equivalency results of a user’s carbon savings on tradepal, simply enter the amount into the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator

Author  Tamar Burton

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Sustainability and the Sharing Economy

“The sharing economy is not motivated by environmental benefits”. This is the result of a recent survey by professors from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of South Carolina. According to their findings, the most important reasons why people share are financial constraints and convenience. Therefore the study suggests that companies looking to win over new customers should emphasize monetary benefits instead of sustainability in their marketing. This statement is yet another sign that the role of sustainability is currently not being sufficiently acknowledged in the collaborative consumption discussion. But I think it should. Here’s why: 

Sustainable development, as defined by the United Nations, is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Being on the agenda of many governments, NGOs and corporations, sustainability is a larger and more mainstream concept than collaborative consumption. Apart from the fact that “going green” has gained broad acceptance among consumers, most governments and companies put a large amount of resources towards meeting specific sustainability goals such as CO2 reduction. Thus in comparison to the attention sustainability has received in the last decade, the sharing economy is still a small phenomenon. 

As sharing economy advocate Rachel Botsman points out in her book “What’s mine is yours”, collaborative consumption has the potential to help achieve sustainability goals by reducing waste and pollution as well as extending the life-cycles of products. Transactions between individuals that were inconvenient in the pre-internet age are becoming worthwhile again thanks to the coordination through modern technology. For instance, instead of throwing away your clutter or laboriously trying to resell or re-gift used objects offline, online platforms make it easy to distribute goods to where they are most needed. In other words, acting sustainably has become a lot simpler. 

But how large is the environmental impact of the sharing economy really? Although it is still too early to assess the long term benefits of the sharing economy, there have been attempts to measure the positive impact of individual applications such as carsharing. It is estimated, for instance, that every shared car replaces nine to 13 owned ones. As 20% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions are produced by personal vehicles, car and ridesharing platforms could significantly contribute to CO2 reduction.

Most consumers may merely see these benefits as a ‘nice side-effect’. However since the sharing economy could significantly contribute to a sustainable future, it is imaginable that global players involved in the sustainability debate will find exactly this aspect most interesting. Therefore in contrast to the above findings that collaborative marketplaces should not advertise with environmental benefits, I believe that the sharing economy can profit from associating with sustainability. This may give it the attention it needs to reach the next level. 

Guest Blogger: Francesca Pick


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Trust in P2P Transactions

Trust is the foundation of all economic transactions, in the real world and on the Web. The crucial difference between the two is that in the real world, we have ways of judging whether our counterpart is trustworthy, whereas on the Web, we usually transact with people we have never met. Especially in the growing sector of peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms, users share very valuable assets such as houses and cars, exposing them to higher risk than in classic e-commerce. According to a recent study by Campbell Mithun, trust concerns are the number one barrier to sharing on collaborative consumption platforms. This indicates that as the sharing economy grows, a foundation of trust between users is necessary to lower their perceived risk of participating in P2P marketplaces. 

I investigated this topic further in my bachelor thesis titled Building Trust in P2P Marketplaces: an Empirical Analysis of Trust Systems for the Sharing Economy. I received many interesting insights by interviewing people from across the globe such as researchers, social innovators, P2P platforms as well as startups attempting to create online trust systems. 

A number of tools that help users judge each other’s trustworthiness online already exists. Five-star rating systems as popularized by eBay are a very common type of feedback system. These ratings are often accompanied by user comments and reviews to provide descriptive information about a transaction. On platforms such as Taskrabbit, identity verification by phone and email as well as background checks are tools used to ensure safety. Further tools that verify identities and let users tap into their existing social networks when joining a new site are social media connect buttons (for example Facebook Connect). Several startups such as TrustCloud, Briiefly, Legit and PeerTrust are attempting to merge these tools into one trust system that allows users to take their online reputation with them wherever they go. 

Apart from these tools my findings suggest that online communities can also foster trust. According to an interviewee, tight-knit communities of people with similar interests, tastes and values can function as a type of trust system. This is the case at the German ridesharing company, where most users have in common that they are current or former students. 

Guest Blogger: Francesca Pick 

Francesca studied Communication and Cultural Management at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany. To read more of her research, please visit the full thesis.


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8 Ways Geeks Contribute to Sustainability

Could internet geeks be the new heros for sustainability? If you rank this based on new evidence that increased dependence on online activities can impact carbon emissions, then yes.

A study just published by GeSI, titled Measuring the Energy Reduction Impact of Selected Broadband-Enabled Activities Within Households highlights not just the challenge entailed in addressing climate change, but also the opportunities. The GeSI stands for Global e-Sustainability Initiative that is a strategic partnership of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector and organizations committed to creating and promoting technologies and practices that foster economic, environmental and social sustainability. 

With the support of BT, Ericsson, Verizon, Deutsch Telecom the GeSI study was implemented and assessed the link between broadband usage and net energy reduction. The findings supported that by making the world’s energy infrastructure more efficient via the combined benefits of smart grids, transportation, buildings and the increased adoption of travel substitution, the result could be a global reduction of carbon emissions by 15 percent.

To make this a reality, the following eight online activities would need greater adoption, as measured by the study:

  1. Online banking
  2. Music and video downloading
  3. Telecommuting
  4. E-mail use
  5. Use of the Internet as a primary news source
  6. Online shopping
  7. Online education
  8. Use of digital photography

On the micro-level, this success would be dependent on the increased adoption of these eight online activities at the residential level. To quantify this, the report showed how we contribute to reduced energy consumption and resulting carbon emissions at a net rate of around 2 percent of total national levels in the U.S., Germany, Spain, Italy, the U.K. and France. This reduction would be the equivalent to removing 55 million vehicles off the roads. 

Verizon alone has over 130M customer connections ranging from wire, wireless, broadband and video and is focused on minimizing environmental impact of operations and supply chain. Based on these eight consumer activities, the study evidenced the role of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in addressing climate change and ultimately facilitating efficient and low carbon development.

For additional reading on breaking the sustainability barrier, visit:

The Zeronauts: The Modern Argonauts

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Sustainability vs Storage Wars Epidemic

The business of self storage is a United States-based industry that began to appear in the 90s and grew by 3,000 new facilities annually from the years 2000 to 2005. By 2009, there were 46,000 storage facilities in the United States. Additional facilities are found in Canada with over 3,000 spaces and Austria with more than 1,000 and totals 58,000 facilities worldwide. 

Based on the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 40 million people in the United States move annually. Part of the reason for the growing demand for storage stems from the various life stages such as college, marriage, divorce, retirement and death of a family member and various natural disasters. 

Here are some statistics on the storage epidemic:

  • In 2010, 45.3 million people lived in a different home than one year earlier.
  • Currently, one in ten households rent a self storage unit.
  • The total rentable self storage space equals an area over three times the size of Manhattan Island, NY.

The four most common state-to-state moves in 2010 were, California to Texas 69,000 movers, New York to Florida 55,000, Florida to Georgia 50,000, and California to Arizona 47,000. 

By 2010, the storage epidemic - and the failure to pay for storage after 90 days had become so common that cable networks launched two shows on the trend. Storage Wars and Auction Hunters have been growing in ratings ever since. Storage Wars has drawn over 5 million viewers and averages 2.1 million per episode. With the increasing amount of ‘stuff’ people store, additional programs have debuted including Auction Kings, Pawn Stars, each stemming from the desire to find a good deal from someone else’s no longer used items.

While this has been labeled entertainment, the core problem stems from the failure of people to part with their ‘stuff’. Imagine all of the outdated electronics and furniture that could have been put back to use years ago rather than storage. 

Additional Reading:

Did You Know You Harbored $7,000 in Unused Items

Are Yard Sales Losing Their Curb Appeal?

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Happy Independence Day, Y’All!

On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays will be marked by parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country.

2.5 million

In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation.

313.9 million

The nation’s estimated population on this July Fourth.

Fourth of July Cookout Trivia:

Almost 1 in 3

The chance that the hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 19.7 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2012. This estimate represents almost one-third of the nation’s estimated total. North Carolina (8.6 million) and Minnesota (7.6 million) were also homes to large numbers of pigs.

7.2 billion pounds

Total production of cattle and calves in Texas in 2011. Chances are good that the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers on your backyard grill came from the Lone Star State, which accounted for about one-sixth of the nation’s total production. And if the beef did not come from Texas, it very well may have come from Nebraska (4.6 billion pounds) or Kansas (4.0 billion pounds).

Please Pass the Potato

Potato salad and potato chips are popular food items at Fourth of July barbecues. Approximately half of the nation’s spuds were produced in Idaho or Washington state in 2011.


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